Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An expensive mistake...

Yes, this was $160 (with shipping).

So about 4 and a 1/2 years ago now I began my regrettable flirtation with World of Warcraft. In the summer of 2004 I got a copy of Final Fantasy XI because I was still an FF fanboy. FFXI would work for sporadic amounts of time and freeze my computer. Also, it wasn't that fun. Fast forward a few months to September-October, my best friend gets a beta copy of World of Warcraft. Now I've always loved the Warcraft series, and Blizzard lore in general. I saw how much deeper and more graphically pleasing this game was than FFXI, and was sold. I played on and off for the next 4 years, getting utterly disinterested and quitting, and then coming back for more punishment, generally when new content like an xpac came out. But ultimately I dropped the habit in January and really have zero interest in returning -- for any reason.

Thus began my ritualized monthly throwing of $15 into the sewer, as well as countless hours of my life (actually Blizzard has a function in the game where you can type /played and see how much you've played on that character. I never bothered with a final total, though.). Now as if flushing a percentage of my life down the toilet, as well as enough for 2 or 3 car payments, wasn't bad enough, Blizzard found its way into my -- and many others' -- pockets other ways too.

A few years after the explosive popularity of WoW, Blizzard released a trading card game based around the game. This TCG had one major difference from others based on popular franchises -- the invention of the loot card. Loot cards were special cards inserted in packs at a certain ratio that when scratched off and entered into the Blizzard/Upper Deck website, allowed you to get some goofy trinket, mount or other cosmetic thing that didn't affect the game in any way but were fun nonetheless. Not being a particular fan of TCGs the idea of the loot cards intrigued me, but I wasn't about to buy boxes and boxes of cards to get an in-game item. Enter the enterprising souls on ebay. Over time I bet I spent over $250 on loot cards for in-game crap. I had the Hippogryph Hatchling, Goblin Gumbo Kettle, Paper Flying Machine Kit, D.I.S.C.O., Picnic Set, and Goblin Personal Weather Maker. I'm really glad I didn't end up getting the Onyxia Kite or Spectral Tiger mount, two of the most expensive loot card items on ebay.

Though I spent less on this item, because it was all in one lump sum, and I didn't get to have fun with it in-game like the other stuff, I guess I'm regretful of it more than the cards. The item in question? A Figureprint. Figureprints are representations of 3-D model data fed by a program into a machine that interprets and configures them into an "action" figure. More like a statue, and I'm convinced that these are little more than fancy papercraft (they look like painted styrofoam when you look at them up close). I think the technology to create these is probably amazing, but could ultimately use refining. Anyway, Figureprints hooked up with Blizzard and started producing scale representations of your character for like $100. Originally, and for about 2 years they had a lottery that governed who was able to throw their cash at FP to have a figure of their character made. When I got my chance, the price went up to $140 for some reason. I was in the last 2 months of the lottery, which made it even less special when a big news item came out 8 weeks later saying "Get all the Figureprints you want now!" and I got my FP like a week after that, lulz. (Yeah they take a while to make) Supposedly before, with the lottery system, you had to enter every month. I had quit for about 9 months when I got the news that I had been drawn as a winner in the FP drawing for November. The xpac was one reason I started playing again, but the fact that you had to have an active WoW account to get a Figureprint made was a big baiting factor as well. I honestly think that Blizzard used this on "retired subscribers" as a ploy to get them to play again. Being that they retired the lottery system a scant 2 months later. I'm now trying to offload my personal Figureprint for $50 on ebay (nearly 2/3 of the price off), but honestly, who wants to buy a figure of someone else's character?

I would honestly love to sell my account because I think people would pay a decent amount for the loot cards alone, and the fact that I have an 80 DK with some tier 7.5 gear and a Mechano-hog, plus a 77 lock with epics and over 50 mounts, etc, cosmetic stuff that people that want to buy "pretty shinies" look for. But I've heard that most account sales, unless done in person are scam-worthy. And there are companies that buy your account, but I don't necessarily want some "company" rummaging through my personal data in Blizzard's files, because who knows what Blizz keeps on file even though they claim to have deleted all relevant financial data. I'm not about to give over the contents of my bank account over a matter of $200-300 for my blood, sweat and tears.

I did make $40 profit on my Blizzard Authenticator keyfob that is now apparently sold out at the Blizzard store, that originally cost $6.50. I was paranoid about account security, but by the time I got it, I'd quit, so hey why not make a profit? I also managed to sell my Talking Murloc from Jinx for about $20 over the retail, so... In the end, I really wish I hadn't bought the Figureprints figure of my lock, but the cards weren't really that regretable a decision, and I profitted off of the rest. =P

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